Global interest in Saddam's buttock
A bronze buttock "liberated" from a statue of Saddam Hussein after the fall of Baghdad in 2003 has attracted global attention ahead of an auction later this month, its owner says.
Former SAS hero Nigel "Spud" Ely said the war relic had been the subject of "phenomenal" worldwide interest since news of its impending sale was announced three days ago.
The London-born veteran, who lives in Herefordshire, recovered the souvenir of Saddam's downfall while working alongside a TV crew as US Marines toppled the landmark statue in April 2003.
Being sold off with full provenance by Derbyshire-based Hansons Auctioneers on October 27, the chunk of metal has also been subjected to spectral analysis to allow other pieces of the statue to be authenticated if they come to the market in future.
Part of the proceeds from the sale of the memento will go to charities helping injured and ex-servicemen in Britain and the United States.
"There has been interest from around the world and I would love it to go to a museum," Mr Ely, 52, said. "It's still a tactile piece of bronze, albeit it's the backside of Saddam.
"It certainly wouldn't look out of place (in a museum) and it would attract a lot of people because of what it is."
Mr Ely, who recently established a Derby-based company to promote so-called war relic art, enlisted the help of a marine armed with a crowbar and a sledgehammer to recover the 24lb piece of bronze.
Speaking earlier this week, auctioneer Charles Hanson, a regular on BBC TV's Bargain Hunt, tipped the "piece of modern history" to realise a five-figure sum.
Mr Hanson noted: "It should appeal to military and art collectors alike, not to mention anyone who has an interest in the major events that have helped shape the world we live in. Both the wider story of the Iraq conflict itself and the sub-plot of how Spud came to possess the piece only add to its appeal, its importance and its provenance."